Making her first public remarks since breaking her leg in a sledding accident -- and since the Persian Gulf War began -- Barbara Bush yesterday advised parents to be very careful what their children see of the war on television and to talk them through their fears.

"I just think parents should monitor their children and just be sure that they're understanding what they're seeing so they're not getting terrible nightmares," she told reporters covering a reception she hosted for conferees at a women's leadership summit on breast cancer. She walked using a souvenir cane from a trip to Africa that she and her husband made when he was vice president. "George said, 'Carry it. It has your name on it.' "

Asked if she thought television should be exercising more restraint in what footage it airs, she said she was "not going to get into" that.

She said she was alerted to the dangers of children watching the war at home because her grandchildren spent the weekend with her at Camp David. The older children, she said -- Sam LeBlond, 6, and his sister, Ellie, 4, and Marshall Bush, 4 -- were alarmed. She says she realized the importance of taking "the time to really sit down and talk with them" about what was happening and what they were seeing.

President Bush wasn't there at the time, she said. She handled the kids on her own.

"We just talked about it, the things we were looking at," she said. "I didn't tell them more than they wanted to know. I just told them what we were seeing.

"When they asked questions, I would say, 'Well, that's way away,' " she said. "I answered {their questions}. They were little kids, so they didn't ask too many."

She said she tried to explain that "first of all, it wasn't in their back yard" but that "it's very important -- these were their people."

Worried that it was all so close, they were particularly unnerved "when they saw the bombings coming on Tel Aviv and they thought, 'Gee!' They were saying, 'Daddy! Daddy!' " Mrs. Bush said.

"My kids aren't different than anyone else's," she added. "I just think you ought to be careful of your children."

She said she is taking the war "the same way" the president is. And she described him as "steady and stable and calm. He's on the phone a lot of the time. He's like anybody else. Every single one of those soldiers are his."

And she said he has no regrets about going to war.

"No," she said, shaking her head, "he did what he knew was right."

And of American women, many of them mothers, on active military duty in Saudi Arabia, she said, "It's sad. I mean, war is not nice."